Grey eyes, not disdainful and cold and scornful, but soft, and filled with kindliness and gentleness, banished all memory of Marjorie’s pretty pathetic blue eyes. Why, Hugh thought, had that girl looked at him like that for just one moment? Why had she appeared for that instant so different? It was as if a cold and bitter mask had fallen from her face, and he had had a peep at the true—the real woman, the woman all love and tenderness and gentleness, behind it.
“Anyhow, it doesn’t matter,” said Hugh. “I’ve done what I believed to be the right thing. She turned me down; the affair is now closed, and we’ll think of something else.”
But it was not easy. At his dinner, which he took in solitary state, he had a companion, a girl with grey eyes and flushed cheeks who sat opposite to him at the table. She said nothing, but she looked at him, and the beauty of her intoxicated him, and the smile of her found an answer on his own lips. She ate nothing, nor did the waiter see her; so far as the waiter was concerned, there was an empty chair, but Hugh Alston saw her.
“Why,” he asked, “why can you look like that, and yet be so different? That look in your eyes makes you the most beautiful and wonderful thing in this world, and yet...”
He laughed softly to himself. He was uttering his thoughts aloud, and the unromantic waiter stared at him.
“Beg your pardon, sir?” he asked.
“That’s all right!” Hugh said. “What won the three-thirty?”
“I don’t think there was any racing to-day, sir,” the man said.
He went away, not completely satisfied as to this visitor’s sanity, and Hugh drifted back into dreams and memories.
“You are very wonderful,” he said to himself, “yet you made me very angry; you hurt me and made me furious. I called you ungenerous, and I meant it, and so you were. Yet when you look at me with your eyes like that and the colour in your cheeks, I can’t find one word to say against you.”
He went to the theatre that night. It was a successful play. All London was talking of it, but Hugh Alston never remembered what it was about. He was thinking of a girl with cold disdainful looks that changed suddenly to softness and tenderness. She sat beside him as she had sat opposite to him at dinner. On the stage the actors talked meaningless stuff; nothing was real, save this girl beside him.
“What’s the matter with you, my good fellow, is,” Hugh said to himself, as he walked back to the hotel that night, “you’re a fickle man; you don’t know your own mind. A week ago you were dreaming of Marjorie; you considered blue eyes the most beautiful thing in the world. You would not have listened to the claims of eyes of any other colour, and now—Bless her dear little heart, she’ll be happy as the day is long with Tom Arundel, with his nice fair hair parted down the middle, and her pretty scented notepaper. Of course she’ll be happy. She would have been miserable at Hurst Dormer, and so should I have been; seeing her miserable, I should have been miserable myself. But I shall go back to Hurst Dormer to-morrow and start on that renovation work. It will give me something to occupy my time and attention.”